Singapore Creative Writing Residency Final Showcase Dancing, Fighting and Writing: Lessons from the body captured in words
Gitanjali Kolanad, the 2016 Singapore Creative Writing Resident, presented her final showcase marking the end of her six month residency where she had been working on her first novel, Girl Made of Gold. The novel explores the world of the devadasi, the hereditary temple dancer, in the 1920s. A reading of the new novel was punctuated with performances by Kalaripayat artist Hans Wolfgramm and Bharata Natyam dancer Katyaini Reddy. This multidisciplinary showcase also examined how Indian movement traditions can bring a sensory awareness of time, space and the body that can enliven one's writing.
About Gitanjali Kolanad
Gitanjali Kolanad was involved in the practice, performance, and teaching of bharata natyam for more than forty years. She performed in major cities in Europe, America and India, including London, New York, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Toronto, Tokyo, New Delhi, Bombay, and Madras. Her traditional performances were praised by critics, while her contemporary choreographic work won new audiences for bharata natyam.
Her work was often multi-disciplinary, arising out of collaborations with artists from other disciplines: director Phillip Zarrilli, video/installation artist Ray Langenbach, poet Judith Kroll, violinist Parmela Attariwala, to name a few. Her performances incorporated folk and ritual forms of dance, theatre and martial art forms from South India. She created eight major full-length dance works, many of which she performed all over the world.
Gitanjali's short story The American Girl won second prize in the 2008 CBC Literary Awards. The story is part of a collection published in 2011 by Penguin India and long-listed for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award that year. Her previous book, Culture Shock: India, published by Marshall Cavendish, is now into its third edition, and has been translated into Korean. She has written numerous articles on aspects of Indian dance for well-known Indian publications, such as Open Magazine and Seminar. For two years, she contributed a column on arts and culture to the newspaper New Indian Express.
She co-founded IMPACT - Indian Martial and Performance Arts Collective of Toronto, which teaches the Indian martial art form of kalaripayat to at-risk youth in underserved neighbourhoods. Presently she is teaching courses in the Dept of Art, Design and Performing Arts while developing a fully-fledged performing arts program at Shiv Nadar University.